Saturday, April 02, 2011

CSAAM April 2011-The Importance of Raising a "Rude Child"



The good people at CSA Awareness are marking the month of April with blogs, tweets and other forms of social media to raise awareness about the child sexual abuse. Do head to their blog here:http://csaawarenessmonth.wordpress.com/
share your story on your own blog or email them at  csa.awareness.april@gmail.com.
Follow them on twitter at @CSAawareness
Join their Facebook page here to join the debate and stay updated about the latest posts and discussions.

Folks far eloquent than me have been blogging about it, so I will not repeat some of the arguments about being Aware and Alert, I will just share my concerns about how most initiatives regarding child abuse awareness continue to being restricted to survivor's stories. Yes it is important to come out and share, but with 53% of us having been abused at some stage (and let me add to this 99% of us do know of someone  who has been abused as a child) is it not time we discuss What Makes For An Abuser? I am really curious. For in majority of cases it is People Just Like Us. A family member, friend of a family, someone who might be a care-giver for us. So when we as parents sit our children down to have that talk, it is important to start the Other Conversations Also. For instance deconstructing the psychosexual metaphors employed in popular culture, I am not saying that you start Derrida 101 but right from the start share your problems with "dilwale dulhaniya lejayenge and no means yes" sab chalta hai attitude. When bullying anyone less powerful than you turns into abusing someone because they are just too naive. I am sure I have opened up a Pandora's Box right now, and at the risk of repeating myself I know it is important to have the "survivor's testimonies" but do remember that people who will click on this website are people who are already sensitized to the issue. Where do we go on from here. I dont know, yes I have nightmares about the child being abused but I am also sensitive to the fact that the child doesnt grow up to be an abuser too!!

Coming back to Raising a Rude Child. I wish we would never equate hugging or kissing a grownup as good manners. I am not saying that children (and we as grown ups) should not be physically demonstrative, but I am a firm believer that when we are small we do have some kind of in-built radar. somehow we kill those instincts in children by forcing them to give that hug when they dont want to.I t is damn confusing for children too, yes right now this uncleji or aunty ji is not  a predator but how do you know the next one esp. when you are not in the room is not?! And over time children get into the vicious cycle of the "disease to please" and suppress speaking out when they ARE being abused...so I am very happy when my child is forthcoming with hugs or  blowing you a kiss but I am also comfortable in future if someone goes tut tut  how rude is your child , sahi sey salaam, helllo hi hi nahi karta.

A pox on the house of all whom have abused me over the years, and woe upon me for just freezing every time but when it comes to The Toddler I am going to follow what my sister very wisely told me, Yes Our Children May or May Not Get Abused, but when they do (God Forbid) let them be Strong Enough to Come Up to Us. 
and to that I add and May We Have The Spine to Then Fight Their Battles For Them.

Edited to Add:
Dipali has made a very interesting comment which asks for a blog post of its ow.

do realise that in Indian society at least (and to this I add it can be any community around the world), male children are brought up in a very faulty manner if so many of them are, at various ages/stages of their lives, perpetrators of abuse.
Popular culture depicts random acts of molestation as romance.
Female relatives generally indulge the male child.
Where is the moral training of our sons?
How do we sensitize them towards other members of the family- the old, the young, the opposite sex?
How do we tell them that violating another person’s space is wrong?
Touching someone against their will is wrong?
Touching a younger person’s body inappropriately is wrong?
(There are female abusers too, but not as common as male ones).
And yet we need to trust others. Such a tricky tight rope walk this is.

11 comments:

  1. mera itna lamba comment kahan gaya???

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  2. Your comment did appear in my email sur, so cut/pasting again:

    Thanks for this post Aneela. Well said, and what your sisters says is the crux of the whole issue.

    I have been so deeply disturbed and upset reading the comments ever since CSA awareness initiative began. It is one thing to know the figures and be aware of how common place abuse of children seems to be, but to actually read comment after comment detailing abuse, and not as a single incident, but as something that continued over time, over years, is devastating.

    My concern is that we are only focussing on how to make our space safe for our children, but also, more importantly, how do we make our space open enough for our children to be able to come and tell us right away, for us to be able to pick up our child's confusion, discomfort or pain.

    Your sister has said what has been playing on my mind- how do we make our children strong enough to face abuse, and not be scarred by it for life. Our response can not be to shut out the world and monitor each moment of our children- that will be equally scarring.

    No, I am not going to say that my child will get to spend time, alone, only with her mother and father, her grandparents, and that she will be monitored with everyone else. I have male friends, close male friends, friends whom I can trust my life. They love Sanah with the same intensity that they love me. Each has his own personal equation with Sanah - each is passing on his passion to her. we, her parents, are teaching her to love and trust, but we are also teaching her to be confident of herself and of us. God forbid, someone betrays our trust, I have to ensure that my child does not think that she can not tell us because we will not believe her, or because we will be crushed, or because now we will keep a hawk eye on her. I worry about how to create that space where she can stand up to everyone, including us for misjudging the person we trusted.

    long comment, like i apologised to TMM, i apologise to you too. I should just go write my own post instead of hogging comment space.

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  3. I know that violators abuse the kids because they know they will get away with it. This hush hush attitude towards the sexual leaves them scot free! Everyone is talking about their own experiences and those of their friends, no one has reported a mother who has confronted the violator. These people have to be exposed, that's the only way to deter them. In most families there is a resident 'dirty old man' women are warned to stay away from him but he is never disturbed, no one has kicked him between the legs in public, no one has shaken him till his teeth rattle. He goes on in his dark deeds while his victims nurse their wounds and figure out how to deal with the wounds he gave them through out their lives!

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  4. I agree with Sur. Watch the child like a hawk but most of all, teach your child that he has a right to be believed and protected.

    @Diya I faced a man like that in the Metro once. He was trying to peer down my blouse as I waited for a train. After I boarded, some other women who had noticed it all and never opened their mouth told me that he was a regular at that station and everybody avoided him for this reason. At that time I was not a regular commuter myself and I had no reason to return to that particular station but these women were and put up with it.

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  5. Thank you for your post, Aneela. You are right, better a 'rude' child than a victimised one.

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  6. Sur said everything I wanted to say. Its a fine line. But as a survivor myself, I am thinking its better to be safe than sorry and drilling the message to my almost 6 year old. Shes quite a reserved child already and God knows how my talk is affecting her!

    On the Survivor stories, it might look pointless. But people have poured their hearts out there. If in 4 days, CSAAM has so received so many emails it means that people wanted to be heard. Women were just waiting for a sign to tell people about their abuse. Even if its anonymously. These stories are very much part of the awareness, IMHO.

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  7. Brilliant post as always, Aneela. The Other Questions have been burning in my mind too...how do we raise sensitive boys? How do we teach boys so that they don't bully/touch/abuse all in the name of fun/peer pressure/game of the day? Most importantly, how do we deal with a child who has abused another child? I know the last one is such a scary, scary thought, but...

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  8. I am neither married nor a parent, so not in a position to offer any advice on bringing up children, but yes I completely agree with the effect of cultural reference points on growing children and adults alike. What passes off as flirtation in Bollywood movies would amount to gross sexual harassment in real life. It doesn’t help that the average male from the sub continent is exposed to the same levels of titillation (courtesy the Internet and other media) as his western counterpart, but lives in an otherwise very different society. Someone has rightly said that sex abuse continues to happen because the violator knows that he will get away with it. It also happens because the perpetrator doesn’t see much humiliation coming his way from the victim, who in cases may not even be old enough to realize that he/she has been outraged

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  9. very well said Aneela. I am hung up on the point you made about children having in built radars and how we kill them by constant forcing to be physically demonstrative. In fact my nephew, right from day one, doesn't like physical affection ( is choosy at best) and develops a strong dislike to people who've forced him to sit on their laps or grabbed him. Now when he's 5 years old, he continues disliking some people, and his mother thinks its alright for him to decide if at all he wants to go close to someone or say a polite hello from a distance.

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  10. Yes, we need to trust our children's instincts and also try and receive whatever signals they give us, spoken or unspoken.
    Yes, I'd rather my child be considered rude!

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  11. I loved your piece! It said so much I couldn't say as a child. And that my parents failed to see in my eyes. For most part, it comes from someone in the family or friends. Parents are the only people who could curb this vice, at both ends!
    Cheers :)

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